Rescue dog finally adopted by Trooper
The Transition Period
Sydney came with a dog bed and she absolutely recognizes it as her own. When on her bed, in or out of the crate, she immediately seems peaceful.
During the first few weeks with Sydney, we were very cautious about leaving her alone with Trooper. They were hesitant and nervous about each other and were frequently in some hot debate over something. Trooper would act territorial about our bedroom or Sydney would go after a snack meant for Trooper, and the receiver of the assumed aggression would get upset. Such small actions, which would normally elicit a disinterested shrug in a typical two-dog home, were causing reactions of umber-sensitivity and protectiveness in their fragile new relationship.
To safeguard against serious problems, we kept Sydney in a crate whenever we were gone and in a crate at night. Whenever we left for a hike, one dog was in the very back of the car and one was in the center of the car. We did not follow the advise of the adoption coordinator, who recommended not allowing interaction at all until the new dog had been with us for a few weeks. We put them outside together and allowed them to be together when we were in the room. If conflict arose, an alpha dog (a human) made sure the dogs knew they were both of the same tier in the pack. No special treatment for either dog; if a problem resulted because of either of them, they both were punished by being placed in rooms with no humans.
Over time, they became used to each other. Certain situations seemed to help, especially if they were stressful. It was actually funny at times. It seemed that in their mutual concern over a situation, they became comrades.
Going to the groomer
After coming home from the groomer, sporting shaved down summer haircuts, the dogs stood closer to each other than they had ever done before.
About five days after Sydney’s arrival, we had a very traumatic trip to the groomers. I assumed that Trooper would maintain his typical good behavior during the car trip but Sydney’s out of control barking, whining and panting got him all amped up. After about five minutes, they were both going bonkers. At one point in their hysteria, Sydney jumped the back seat and ended up in the section of the car with Trooper. Instead of fighting, however, they seemed united in their fear, barking at me and at the windows but not attacking each other.
Later, as they came out of the back room of the groomer’s, they walked together, rubbing and wagging as they approached me. Neither one became protective over me. A day of small progress!
Crating Sydney and establishing ‘her’ space
It’s amazing what crating Sydney accomplished. She absolutely loved going to her bed and immediately became calm as soon as she sat down inside in her crate. Her immediate calmness would translate to Trooper. If she relaxed, so did he. There seemed to be no concerns serious enough to rouse them if Sydney was relaxed in her crate, door open or closed.
“Zones” in the living room
After a week or so, we discovered that by creating ‘zones’ in the living room, we could remove the primary cause of upset – guarding the people. There was a blanket on either side of the room and the dogs would be forced to ‘go to bed’ on opposite sides and stay there. Nobody got to dominate the living room by being closest to the humans. This made huge progress in establishing pack hierarchy- they were equals, beneath the human alphas.
After a few more weeks, separating them was not necessary. Their relationship developed into that of fun loving companions and they often sprawled out on the same blanket or wherever they wanted; no longer defaulting to being close to the people.
During the first few weeks, one of the dogs would try to engage the other, but would receive disinterest, fear or concern in return. Half a day later, the previous receiver of attention would try to go engage the dog that had initially tried to play. The same thing would then result. They had bad timing and seemed to not trust the other dog to have the same purity of intention, even though the roles had been reversed shortly before.
Over time, the play response improved dramatically. Now, when one dog initiates play, the other dog wants to play 99% of the time. They will wrestle around on the floor for 30 minutes before taking a break.
They love each other!
Two months after meeting, Sydney and Trooper are often found sharing the living room blanket, exhibiting perfect harmony.
Sydney and Trooper are incredible buddies now. They lick the face of the other very gently and with great affection. They horseplay, chase and goad each other on a regular basis. I think Trooper is very happy to have Sydney. His love for me or desire to follow me around has not decreased at all, and he now has a buddy to enjoy when I’m not available. It has been a month and a half now since her adoption. Despite the slow progress in her barking tirades, I’m positive that Sydney is an absolutely wonderful addition to our family.